Halloween Black and White Cookie Recipe

A few drops of orange food coloring transform these iconic New York cookies into a Halloween treat. Enjoy this seasonal New York black and white cookie recipe!

A Short History of the Black and White Cookie Recipe

Much ink has been spilled on the topic of New York City’s iconic black and white cookies. While Glaser’s Bake Shop in Yorktown claims the black and white cookie recipe as its own (brought over by the bakery’s original owners from Bavaria when they opened in 1902), a wide array of variants on this cookie concept abound.

Black and White cookies, mysteriously, aren’t so much cookies as small drop cakes, with the delicate crumb and cake-like texture. A drop cake, ironically known as an “Amerikaner” is also very popular in Germany, although typically it is coated just vanilla or a lemon zest flavored frosting, rather than the two colors. Some attribute the cookie’s name to its popularity in America (was it reimported to Germany at some point?), while a more complicated explanation is that Amerikaner is an abbreviated name related to the ammonia leavener that is traditionally used for the goody in Germany (but not in America).

Don’t Buy Your Black and White Cookie in a Bodega

Ironically, despite being so associated with New York City, many New Yorkers don’t like black and white cookies. This black and white cookie recipe was initially met with great resistance from the East Coast authors of this blog, and it wasn’t until we tried making them at home that we grew to love these cookies. This is because in New York City, black and white cookies are most often found in corner bodegas, and they are a pretty unappealing group. They are generally sold wrapped in plastic, and look a little pale, sweaty, and sticky. Once unwrapped, the cake part is typically dry, despite a waxy and excessively sweet fondant topping. We couldn’t, in good faith, recommend them to anyone. When made at home, however, these cookies are tender and just the right amount of sweet. They disappear from the counter top with astonishing speed.

About this Black and White Cookie Recipe

This black and white cookie recipe comes to us from America’s Test Kitchen, so we know it’s been thoroughly vetted and experimented with. When scooped using a quarter cup measure, it yields the New York City sized 4-inch extra large cookies. The frosting, which, to be honest, always intimidated us a bit, is shockingly easy to work with and yields a beautifully shiny finish.

Halloween Delights!

Looking for more Halloween dessert ideas? Check these out:

Recipe Facts

  • Yield: 12 large cookies (or 24 normal sized cookies)
  • Active Time: 20-25 minutes
  • Bake Time: 18 minutes

Looking for some other Halloween-themed treats? Check out this easy graveyard-themed chocolate dirt cake!

For the Cookies

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 10 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup sour cream

For the Black and White Icings

  • 5 1/2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar (measure before sifting)
  • 7 tbsp whole milk, divided
  • 2 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 3-4 drops orange gel food coloring

Instructions for the Black and White Cookie Recipe

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  2. Cream the butter and the granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until well combined.
  4. In a separate small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Add the half the dry ingredients, followed by the sour cream, followed by the remaining flour mixture, beating well on low speed and scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  6. Grease a 1/4 cup measuring cup with oil.
  7. Scoop the cookie batter in quarter cup-fulls onto the prepared baking sheets to make large cookies, six cookies per sheet. If you are making smaller cookies, use a 1 or 2 tbsp cookie scoop
  8. Bake 18 minutes until golden brown, then let cool 5 minutes on baking sheet, before transferring to a wire rack
  9. While the cookies are baking, make the frostings. Whisk together the powdered sugar, 6 tbsp milk, corn syrup, vanilla, and salt in a small bowl.
  10. Transfer 1 cup to a separate bowl and stir in the cocoa powder and the extra tbsp of milk.
  11. Add the orange food coloring to the white icing.
  12. Using an offset spatula, spread the vanilla frosting on half of the flat side of the cookie, then transfer to refrigerator for 30 minutes to let the frosting set.
  13. Remove the cookies from the refrigerator and spread the chocolate icing on the other half of the cookie.
  14. Allow the icing to set, at least one hour, before serving.
  15. Cookies will keep in an airtight container for several days but are most delicious on the day they are made.

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